The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 team today launched the car it will campaign in the 2009 FIA Formula 1 World Championship at its headquarters in Woking. Unveiled by Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen, the new MP4-24 bears little resemblance to its world championship-winning predecessor due to the introduction of a raft of new rules that have reshaped F1.
Now featuring heavily revised bodywork, re-sculpted front and rear wings, slick tyres and a kinetic energy recovery system (KERS), the MP4-24 has been in development since September 2007 in order to successfully accommodate the huge changes to the technical regulations.
The team has already completed two MP4-24 chassis and begins publicly testing at the Autodromo do Algarve circuit in Portugal on Monday. Test driver Pedro de la Rosa will conduct the first two days before Lewis (Wednesday) and Heikki (Thursday) sample the car.
Lewis Hamilton: \"The arrival of a new car is always an emotional moment for any racing driver - and the unveiling of MP4-24 is even more special for me, not only because the car looks absolutely stunning but also because it carries the world champion’s number one. I believe this year’s world championship is open, given the new rule changes and that’s a great prospect for every Formula 1 fan. Personally, I’m hoping for another successful season and the chance to once again fight for the title - until the final race if necessary, but preferably before!\"
Heikki Kovalainen: \"I’m fortunate enough to have watched behind the scenes as this year’s car has taken shape and I’ve been amazed at just how hard everybody in Woking. Brixworth and Stuttgart has worked. Over the winter, I also feel like I’ve had the opportunity to prepare fully for the year ahead: I’ve been busy training and working with my engineers to ensure we start the season as strongly as possible. With so many new rules, adapting quickly will be essential and I feel more prepared than ever for the new season.\"
Ron Dennis, Chairman & CEO, McLaren Group,
Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes:
\"Despite our victory in the 2008 drivers’ world championship we have taken nothing for granted in our preparations for the season ahead. Indeed, if anything, our efforts to fully understand this period of huge regulatory change have been more thorough and concerted than ever before. And while the scale of the technical changes makes it difficult to accurately assess the true competitive outlook of the year ahead, as a team we can feel proud of our efforts and look forward to another close season of Formula 1 motor racing. As ever, we exist to win and our target remains the successful acquisition of both this year’s drivers’ and constructors’ world titles.\"
Martin Whitmarsh, COO, McLaren Group,
CEO Formula 1, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes:
\"Such profound changes to the sport make it difficult to predict which teams will have most successfully developed their cars for the new technical regulations. These rules have presented us with considerable challenges throughout the design process of MP4-24 but we have thoroughly interpreted all their ramifications in order to design a car we can feel proud of. We are also optimistic that the Overtaking Working Group’s findings will help create a more thrilling and exciting sport that will provide greater entertainment and value to our biggest customers: the general public.\"
Norbert Haug: Vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: \"In sporting terms, the 2009 Formula 1 season will be a highly interesting one, particularly because of the so far biggest technical challenges in contemporary Formula 1 history. These include new aerodynamic rules, the reintroduction of slick tyres, the implementation of KERS combined with stringent testing restrictions. We developed and built the new car at most favourable conditions and it turned out to be strikingly elegant. Our colleagues in Woking, Brixworth and Stuttgart did an excellent job. I am convinced that the rule changes combined with drastic cost reduction measures will improve the Formula 1 show - and that’s great for the interested spectators.\"
David Wheldon, Global brand director, Vodafone Group: \"With nearly three months until the opening grand prix of the season, today’s launch of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes MP4-24 raises anticipation and expectations before the first race in Australia in March. With new regulations and new cars, the season ahead looks likely to be more dramatic than ever and, like every Formula 1 fan, we are excited about the year ahead. Every Vodafone employee is looking forward to another successful season with Lewis and Heikki. We wish the whole team all the best for 2009.\"